Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Nile monitor

Today a few villagers came to the gate with a Nile monitor lizard that had been caught in their hooks down at the lagoon. Instead of releasing it back in the water, they tied a small rope to its leg and beat it to keep it from fighting. By the time they gave it to me, the lizard was almost dead. I gave another lecture to the villagers that if it happens again, to just let it go and not try to sell it in the markets. Sadly, he passed away after a few hours.

This is a great picture of his claw hand with a powerful gripping claw. When eating, he uses his claws to rip open his prey.

Another picture of his front claws, reminds me of the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park!

  Nile Monitors can grow to about 9 ft (2.7 m) in length. They have muscular bodies, strong legs and powerful jaws. The teeth are sharp and pointed in juvenile animals and become blunt and peg-like in adults. They also possess sharp claws used for climbing, digging, defense, or tearing at their prey. Like all monitors they have a forked tongue, with highly developed olfactory properties.
  Their nostrils are placed high on the snout, indicating that these animals are highly aquatic, but are also excellent climbers and quick runners on land. Nile Monitors feed on fish, snails, frogs, crocodile eggs and young, snakes, birds, small mammals, large insects, and carrion.(Wikipedia)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Goat House Project

Here are my simple plans for making a goat barn.
First we stacked and cemented 3 cinder blocks for the foundation. Then with the local wood called teak, we wired them secure. This was done because of the infestation of termites. Teak wood is so hard that termites leave it alone.
  Then we got pine 1 X 6 and planked the deck. Then with 2 X 4 made all the walls.

Here you can see me with the outside frame almost done. Note: the roof has not been done yet due to time restriction. But since we are in the rainy season, I had to temporarily put some off cuts and plastic up to prevent the rain from getting on the goats as they must be dry at all times.

You can see a canoe on the right which I use for a feeder.

I finally got some iron sheets and tacked them on the 2 X 4s. This was easy and fast. In the summer time we will stuff the sections between the 2 X 4s with straw.

The side wall was more of a challenge as it is on a slope and I had to cut the iron sheets with a grinder.

Here is a shot of the finished inside. I took a 55 gallon drum and cut it in half and welded some re-bars on the sides for a stand. This was made for a drinker.
  A short wall was constructed in the center to separate the two different types of goats we have.

We put straps with bells around the goats neck to let us know when and where they are at all times.
  These goats are dairy goats which can produce up to 5 liters of milk per day.
  They must be milked twice a day.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Mole Monster!

This guy  is what I call a mole monster as he is a mole that I cannot identify. It is not a mole rat because it has hair. The interesting thing on this mole is the nose or should I say snout. It is very flexible but deadly. Deadly by his lower teeth. As I held him with my super gloves, he continued to bite my protected finger over and over again and in different places, but to his dismay, I didn't release him. He was so frustrated. HA!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Bush and me!

What can I say about this picture? It says it all. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I'm a Father!

This morning I inspected my snakes to find out that one of my Gaboon Adders gave birth to over 30 baby snakes!

  I did have some suspicions the other day as one of the Gaboons were acting a bit strange, moving around the cage and hanging next to the glass window.
  She did seem quite large, but I thought it was because of my over feeding.


I just love this photo, too bad they are poisonous.
There are so many of them that I will not be able to keep them. So I called around and one place in Lusaka said they could take about 5 for their snake farm. So the challenge will be to get them down to the farm within a week.
  Young Gaboon Adders feed on small rodents like small frogs, etc. The good news is that one of our small baby pools are full of tad-pools, soon to be frogs.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Today we got in 3 young predator birds. I think they might be Hawks but might be Eagles. Difficult to tell as they are still young and the Mother is not around.
  A few kids showed up at the orphanage with these birds and was looking for a market. I gave them a long lecture about not killing animals etc. and then took the birds to raise. The boys said they threw rocks at the Mother untill she didn't return to the nest, then they found these babies and decided to sell them.
  This is a very typical situation where children are not taught about nature in school and respecting life. When they see any wild life, the first reaction is to kill it, as it is an opportunity for them to benefit from. ....SAD!     
  I am now attempting to feed them three times a day through a modified syringe. A combination mixture of blended fish, goat meat and fluid. I will continue on this diet until I get more information on nutrition.
Check out the talons on this bird.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Planting season

Planting season is now upon us! The rains are starting up and we need to get our fields tilled. So I got out our old faithful tractor dusted it off and went away at it. Our two fields are small, so it would only take a few hours. But ohhh, those few hours were tough. My arms, hands and body still are shaking today! HA!                                                                       The tractor I have is called a walking tractor as you can and often walk along behind it and control it by adjusting different levers.But I prefer a small seat that connects to the tiller. It saves me stepping around in the soil and makes the work more enjoyable. 

  There are some hazards to this though, one is that the revolving belts can brake at any time and whip you in the face, and two, when the tiller is connected, your foot can slip down to the exposed teeth where, well I don't have to be too graphic but you get the picture.


In the end, the best feeling a farmer has is to look at his freshly tilled fields and look on it with pride and satisfaction. To me this was a great ending to the day.
  I do have more soy beans seeds, so I will be looking for another plot where I can sow another hector.

  Oh, I forgot, The first field I planted sweet corn as this is nearly impossible to get here in Zambia.
  I will be planting it in a two week pattern, that way I will have fresh corn  on the cob every two weeks. mmmmmmmm!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Strangers in the night!

Around 6pm 3 villagers rang the door bell of the orphanage, I thought, at this time of night who could this be? Then when I opened the door I saw a bucket next to the 3 natives and knew it was some sort of animal. And sure enough it was a 2 foot crocodile.  This is the second crock I have rescued here in Zambia.
   I asked the usual questions of where was it found, did you beat it, how did you handle the animal, etc. They said they were fishing with their nets and this crock got all tangled up in their nets, the only way to get it out was to cut a section of the net away. This was a problem as now they would need to re-sew the damaged net when they returned to the land. So to get money to mend their net, they decided to sell the animal in the village. Of course, they went to me first because they know I am an animal lover..HA..So I sided with them and gave them enough money to mend their nets. And off they went.

The first thing I do when I get an animal from the wild is to do a thorough health check of the animal. No I am not a vet, but I try my best with the common sense I have, plus I use the internet for further information.
  The eyes, tail, feet and body all looked in good condition. No cuts or broken bones.
    The crock was alert and looked hungry! 


   One experiment I tried was to see if what I heard when I was a boy, that if you turn over any reptile and stroke its stomach on a downward stroke, then the reptile would relax so much that it would fall asleep. As a boy I would do this to lizards whenever I would find them, So I finally had a chance to try it out, and guess what..IT WORKED! Ha! I dont think I would try this on a large crock, but you never know.............................................

Monday, October 24, 2011

Save the Ducks!

The other day a group of guys came to the gate selling 5 ducklings from the lagoon. I got them for a few dollars a piece and put them directly into quarantine after inspecting them.
  There was no marks of abuse, and they all looked in good condition.  
  I am not sure the species of duck they are, but I am sure when they get older I will be able to identify them.
  24th---So today I found 2 of them dead from an unknown reason. It is common for some of the ducks in a group to pass away because of weakness or trauma. 
   The 3 that are remaining are still vibrant and moving around.
The domestic ducks I have on the property right now number over 50, but those are Muscovy ducks which look very different from these, even young-lings.
  These have a dark stripe across it's eye which travels to the back and have very large web feet.
  If you can identify this bird please let me know! Hopefully, the 3 remaining will survive and fly back to the wild!  

Thursday, October 13, 2011


 That is the sound of an African Striped Weasel.(Poecilogale albinucha) Another animal I saved from the clutches of the local witches. They say this animal is very rare, and can make very powerful JU JU's.
   This weasel is a very strong preditor, it can be identified by its long slender body with a white and black stripe down its back. The smell is similar to a skunk and when mad, it makes a GRRRRRRRRR sound.
   It has a sleek, black color with a white tail and four white stripes running down its back. It is 50 centimeters in length on average, including its tail of 20 centimeters.
   The African striped weasel lives in forests, wetlands and grasslands. It is a nocturnal hunter of small mammals, birds, and reptiles. Mainly rats! The weasel kills its prey by whipping its own body and kicking, making use of its thin, lithe, muscular body to stun and tear the prey item. I have watched it many times killing a rat and it goes straight for the back of the neck. Once the back bone is located it simply cracks it.  It sometimes stores its prey in its burrow instead of eating it immediately. Like skunks and polecats, the weasel emits a noxious fluid from its anal glands when it feels threatened. The weasel is generally solitary, but individuals have been found sharing burrows. 
    This is the 3rd weasel that has come to the orphanage, one was caught by my dog during a rain storm, another was rescued but after a short few days it died in captivity, and now this one was caught examined for problems then after a few days it was released back to the wild.  A success!
After the first day of this one being in quarantine the weasel gave off a smell that repelled all who came close to the cage. The smell last for months at a time.
  This weasel was over 2 feet long and had a beautiful coat. A full size one at that.

One thing that I am still a great fan of is the HEXGUARD gloves that I have for handling different animals with. This weasel kept on biting and trying to rip off my fingers over and over again. I could see his frustration as he tried different angles and sides, until he just gave up. It must have been his first time to be handled instead of him handling someone else.
  This animal would be virtually impossible to handle without protected gear. And the teeth on this guy is razor sharp, especially made to rip!
  Better luck next time you old weasel. He is now safe in the woods doing what he does. Eating rats!  


Monday, September 26, 2011

Turtle Times

Just got this Turtle in from a villager passing by. Paid $2 for it which I think was reasonable for the condition it was in.
  I showed the orphans the turtle and let it walk around, surprisingly it was moving quite fast and I was just about to tell them how slow they are. HA!
  I tried to look up the species but had no luck. Maybe just a mud turtle. There is not much webbing next to the claws so he might be a land turtle, but in the mean time I will put it with the Muscovy ducks I have. There he can decide if he wants to go swimming or not. With the 100 degree weather we are having I think he needs water.

Monday, September 19, 2011

More Snake stuff!

This is my snake enclosure that I have built to hold my Gaboon Adders in. It is 7 feet by 5 feet. Plus a roof height of 6 feet.
  I have a total of 5 Gaboons that are of full length. They have a watering bath and 2 caves.
  The entrance is located at the top. Which is opened and closed daily.
   This structure was inspired by another snake zoo, called Kalimba farms. I did change a few things like the entrance is on the top not on the side. It just seems much safer that way.
  When not showing others the snakes, I have placed a extra protection of chicken wire frame that will keep the snakes in if for any reason the glass is broken. This chicken wire frame can be removed easily when we have a visitor.
 The plan is to have 5 more of these structures to house other types of snakes.
  I also have been collecting different types of snakes that we find on the property or close by and preserve them in ethanol for further studies and education. I have a collection of 11 different species of snakes which are also identified.
  This is only for the smaller snakes, as large cobras, adders, or pythons will not fit in the jars I am using.
  Every few months I am finding new snakes to collect. This is very exciting and fun as a hobby.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Sun Oven

Living in the bush is not easy in the way of cooking. Our electricity is unreliable at times, with different voltages and power cuts, which made our electric stove not work properly. After many discussions we got rid of it. We then switched to bottled gas that we store in tall cylinders. These are transported up from Lusaka 500 miles away each time we run out. But at times our transport guy is also unreliable and charges an arm and a leg. We have tried charcoal which all the villagers use, but it is very messy and difficult for my wife to cook with, especially if she has to cook with several of them at a time. So we did the research on solar ovens and found the best one for us. It is the Sun Oven! We bought three and had them shipped to a team of volunteers coming from Texas to Zambia. They arrived intact with no problems.

  This is my daughter, Jasmine who will open the box and set the oven up. As you can see, it is a very strong sturdy box good enough to ship.

The oven is padded with Styrofoam. The metal you see is the mirrors which are on hinges, so don't try to pull them out. The whole thing must come out at once with the help of an assistant.

Here you can see the whole thing now out and the Styrofoam discarded.

  When you unsnap the latch, open the mirrors to reveal the inside of the oven. As you can see, there are other things inside which we have additionally purchased. We bought two pots and two bread pans. They were wrapped and packed nicely inside. 

What is inside is a DVD presentation that explains some details about the oven. Note: I knew there were more things on the DVD, so when I explored it, I found some reading material that was a help. Also there was a manual and registration card. You now can see the pots and bread pans.

Now the unpleasant thing is to peel away a blue plastic covering on the mirrors. This came off in a million pieces. 

Once all that blue plastic has been peeled off, you now have a beautiful looking oven.

This is the end result as it looks from the side. We cleaned the inside and left it in the sun for several hours to burn off any residue from the manufacturing. We have been cooking with our three Sun Ovens everyday and kicking ourselves that we didn't get more. We need two to three more for our orphanage. So far, it has reduced our energy bill massively and we are completely satisfied with our purchase. For individuals it costs $300 each. But for charities I paid  $180 not including shipping. Also any pots etc. are extra. This blog was done for free no money was given.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Back from Vacation!

Hi, sorry it has been a few months since my last entry. Went to the States and other places. But now I am back and getting into the groove.
Today a man came to the gate selling a River Nile monitor lizard. So I got it! These are usually hunted for their skins to make drums.

The Nile MonitorWater Leguaan, or River Leguaan (Varanus niloticus) is a large member of the monitor lizard family (Varanidae).Nile Monitors can grow to about 9 ft (2.7 m) in length. They have muscular bodies, strong legs and powerful jaws. The teeth are sharp and pointed in juvenile animals and become blunt and peg-like in adults. They also possess sharp claws used for climbing, digging, defense, or tearing at their prey. Like all monitors they have a forked tongue, with highly developed olfactory properties.Their nostrils are placed high on the snout, indicating that these animals are highly aquatic, but are also excellent climbers and quick runners on land. Nile Monitors feed on fish, snails, frogs, crocodile eggs and young, snakes, birds, small mammals, large insects, and carrion.

As you can see below, it takes a very skilled person to handle this monster. Like me...HA! The one who let his sharp claws to rip my pants next to my knee. Oh, well, there goes another pair of trousers.
 One thing I would be glad I had was the new gauntlets I got while in the States. It is made by Hexguard. A company that makes special gloves for handling animals and other dangerous things.

Here you can see the very dangerous claws that can just do devastation to anything it gets close to. Also the lizards tail is used a whip for defense, which my wife learned...Sad. So tomorrow I will be releasing it back into the wild to live another day.   

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Rare moth

Just took a picture of a rare moth. Looked it up and it is the Snowberry clearwing moth. Hemaris diffinis
It flies like a humming bird.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Hunt for the Great Savanah Python!

A few days ago one fisherman arrived at our door asking for the white man and that he wanted to talk with me, so I came out and asked what he wanted and he said that he had laid down his fishing net in the lagoon about 2 weeks ago. Then when he returned, he found a large python entangled in his net. He became very scared and paddled his way back to home. A few days later he returned and decided to cut away as much net he could to salvage the net to make another. Then he heard about the white man who handles snakes and decided to get me. So I went in my car with the old fisherman and drove about 30min in the bush until I came close to the path to the harbor. It was another 30 min on foot through the woods. Came across a fallen tree.

Then proceeded on foot. Then he took us to his boat. There were other boats there but his looked in ok shape, Of course it is full of water so the old man dished it out.
 Then I took 6 men with me for paddling. The ride went well but was very hot. Being on the water was such a calm and peaceful experience.

  We followed what we call a canal that the canoes and boats have carved out as they have been passing for hundreds of years. From long water grass to lily pads. It was all there.

We finally made it after an hour of crossing the lagoon. We were about a few kilometers from the Congo, and entered a wall of papyrus reeds on both sides. The canal became narrower by the min. until the fisherman showed us were the net was. This is what we found.

Nothing more than a ripped up net from the monster. We did get one fish though, He took it how and ate it. By examining the net thoroughly, The python had a very difficult time weaving himself out of it for 2 weeks. With great disappointment I started back. Sometimes you win others you dont.

The water by this time was calm and was flat as glass. Easy to paddle so it took less time to return to our car. But even with the let down, I did enjoy the hunt. I got out of the house. HA!